It Just Happened

It’s funny how you meet so many people in life, experience so many different interactions; and these interactions help shape what you know about others, and yourself. You slowly learn what you do and don’t like, what you want in a partner, and what you don’t. You learn what qualities matter to you; and those qualities, more often than not, become more or less important with time.

I used to make excuses for people who were dismissive of my feelings or my wants and needs. I used to settle for people who weren’t loyal because they were funny, or who were self centered, but occasionally sweet, because I thought that was enough, and maybe what I wanted. I glazed over things that were unacceptable because it wasn’t quite as broken as the situations I grew up in and I rationalized behavior that warranted immediate excommunication. I settled for less, over and over and over again. I didn’t really know better. So I stayed in relationships I had no business being in just because the thought of going through another shit show of a break up, or having to start over again after attempting to build a life with someone, was exhausting. I was tired of it long before most people my age had even started to discover it. The cost of living a sped up life I guess…

I’ve thought I was in love before, and once before I actually was. But in retrospect, those people were never meant to last a lifetime, no matter how hard they tried to suck one out of me. They were meant to teach me lessons; oftentimes very painful, but necessary lessons. Those lessons included things like what I wouldn’t settle for, what I valued most, what made me build resentments, and how much resentment was too much to get past. I learned where the limits of my forgiveness lie, where my own defects in relationships come out, what makes me happy, and what makes me “hate the way your breathing sounds” miserable. I learned what it felt like when my soul knew it was not meant for the person I was lying next to. And finally, after too much bullshit, I learned how to walk away with my self respect and dignity intact. But more important than all of those things: I learned what Itruly wanted, and needed,all along.

I wanted someone to laugh with, someone who respected me even when they didn’t like my opinions or my actions, someone who truly listened to the things I said, instead of just hearing them. I needed someone who accepted me for the good, the bad, the damaged, and all the in between. I needed someone who could live with knowing my past, without seeing me as some woman to save or a broken bird to be fixed. I needed someone who could support me when I was weak, but could also be vulnerable enough to apologize when they mess up and ask for help when they need it. I wanted someone who didn’t just give up when the going got tough because that was never an option for me and I have a hard time understanding people like that. I wanted someone who felt like home, someone I didn’t have to make excuses for, someone whose actions I didn’t have to hide from my loved ones. Someone who stands up for what they believe in, even when I don’t agree with them. I wanted to be a part of someone’s life, not their entire life. I wanted a partner, a teammate, an “other half” who treated me as their equal. And I drug my way through the assholes to get him. But I have him…

He’s not perfect, but he’s perfect for me. He makes mistakes, but he apologizes for them. I never saw him coming, but he’s exactly what I dreamt of. The timing wasn’t the best, the set up wasn’t great, but the reward has been beyond anything I believed existed anymore. It’s been my experience that when people, myself included, leave a relationship they always say “I’m never doing this again”. And then they go out, find someone who’s the exact opposite of the last one, and they put them on a pedestal that no one belongs on. They paint that person into a picture of what they want them to be, they call them perfect, ignore their flaws, and then act surprised when it all comes crashing down around them. I didn’t do that with him.

Something just happened. He popped up when I least expected it and I just watched. I sat back and let it unfold. I kept my hands out of the mix, I didn’t try to control or force anything, I didn’t try to accelerate the timeline or make him into something he wasn’t. I’m not one for doing that anyway, but I also didn’t make excuses for him. I didn’t need to. I didn’t need to apologize to myself for him because when it was necessary, he handled his shit himself. He carried himself like a man, and so I treat him like one. I respect him, immensely. And when I told him what I needed or couldn’t live with, he respected that and me. And when the time came, I just loved him. It was that simple, I found home in him and I’ve loved him everyday since.

It hasn’t always been a picture perfect fairytale, but I’m pretty sure everything that seems that way is a lie anyway. Love is messy and sometimes, uncomfortable. It shines a light on all the places we’re still broken and damaged. It brings out the best, and the worst, in us. It makes me fucking crazy sometimes because I haven’t exactly lived a life that’s taught me how to have a healthy relationship. But there’s no one on this planet I’d rather give it a shot with. I am so excited to continue to learn how to do this the right way; and for once in my life, I’m with someone who wants the same things as me. And it’s such a beautiful thing. Being with the wrong person will always inevitably lead to suffering. But being with the right person? That changes everything. And I’m so grateful for it, I’m so grateful for him… It’s that simple.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

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Unpopular Opinions

I’m sure you’ve all seen the recent trend on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit: “Post Your Unpopular Opinion”. I’ll admit, I’ve participated. Firstly, because I enjoy seeing what people consider to be “unpopular” and secondly, I’m a fan of educated debate (where you can find it anyway). However, in reading many of these threads, I found a somewhat recurring theme. Many of the things that people consider “unpopular”, in my opinion, shouldn’t be. Shall I provide examples? You know I’m going to anyway so…

Unpopular opinions circa 2017:

1. We need feminism

2. Men shouldn’t regulate women’s bodies

3. I’m pro-choice

4. Children need mothers more than fathers

5. Let the refugees in

The list goes on…. I’d really like to avoid the politics and arguments behind those 5 points specifically and focus more on the common theme among them. They all come back to treating people fairly and equally and respecting their rights as individuals. Why is it that these subjects aren’t popular opinions? Why do we feel as if we should have a say in what other people are allowed to do when it doesn’t personally effect us? The word autonomy does exist for a reason. Why do we treat people who are a different gender, religion, or race as less than? The word equality also exists for a reason. The common theme among these opinions makes me wonder… Where did our humanity go? Where did our kindness go? When did we lose our compassion for others?

Most of the time, when we hear the details of a personal story firsthand of something we might usually fight, such as a family of refugees being allowed into our country, we have sympathy for it. Because we’re hearing it firsthand, it’s in our faces, it’s made real. It’s easy to say “Fuck the refugees! Don’t let them in!” when you’re not staring a starving child from a war torn country in the face. It’s easy to say that abortion is never okay when it’s not your 16 year old. It’s easy to say men and women shouldn’t be equal when you’re the one who’s had the upper hand your entire life. And it’s easy to say mothers are more important when you’ve never grown up without a father. It’s easy to have an opinion about something that doesn’t effect you or your life personally.

Our compassion and capacity for critical thought are two major things that separate us from animals. Without these we become subhuman. We become cruel. We cause damage. We become opinionated; and in this world, our opinions are screamed at the top of our lungs until they start to effect public perception and legal policies. We have the ability to have a drastic and irreversible impact on other people’s lives and we exercise this ability with no thought for those people it may effect. That right there, is what I believe should be unpopular. I am of the opinion that when laws are passed, the people effected should have a say; they should be allowed to offer an opposing viewpoint. What we do and say in that regard should be challenged, looked at, drafted, opposed, and done again. We need to pay attention and be careful. Because these opinions we hold, these laws we support, these people we condemn, it’s all real. It’s not just a Facebook argument this week, it’s not just what’s trending, it is life. It’s our wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us. These things do have an effect, they causes casualties, they change lives. We have a responsibility to be decent, compassionate, and good people. That is a key point in being a member of any community. So why does it seem that most of the community has forgotten that?

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Undercover Romantic

I’m an undercover romantic,

A safe keeper of memories,

It’s always the little things,

The little things that get the best of me.

I’ll never forget the night of the fire,

The true beginning of everything,

You simply opened your mouth,

And we talked well into the morning.

Every part of me was warming,

And every part of me felt home,

I distinctly remember wondering,

Where that comfort was coming from.

I watched you form your thoughts,

As the color of fire licked your lips,

You gave me your honesty,

And in return earned my respect.

There was something in your words,

That I just found so attractive,

It’s a rare day you find the truth,

Offered in the same way you give it.

A meeting of such like minds,

An offer of experience,

You carried yourself so humbly,

I thought you were fucking brilliant.

I didn’t want that night to end,

I would’ve stayed till the sky turned red,

But when I finally hugged you goodbye,

I somehow knew I’d remember it.

I woke up that next morning,

With your words echoing in my head,

I couldn’t shake the sound of your voice,

And this thing right behind it.

This strange sense of belonging but,

You were the last thing I was looking for,

And the timing of it couldn’t be worse,

I tried to tell myself it was nothing

but there was something I couldn’t ignore.

Just a feeling, a hint of longing,

As I found myself craving your presence,

And even when the days got busy,

I still made time for our conversations.

I fell in love with your mind first,

How you weaved your words together,

And I don’t think I had laughed that hard,

In what felt like a thousand forevers.

You asked me to get together,

And I was all about it,

We met at a park in the middle of summer,

And I knew that this was something special.

The way you smiled stopped me dead in my tracks,

And baking in that sun I was still so relaxed,

We went to get milkshakes because I didn’t want it to end,

And when we finally went home,

Your smile stayed in my head.

You’ve smiled at me so many times since,

And it still feels as warm as the first time I saw it.

I’ll never be more grateful for offered experience,

Because out of a talk came a forever I believe in.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Speechless

He says he loves it when I write and he asks me to write for him. And really, he’s my favorite material… and there’s no shortage of inspiration. Everything about him is inspiring. He’s the real fucking deal. Here’s the problem: I’ve mistaken empty hands for wanting hearts before. I’ve mistaken infatuation for love, used words for others that I should’ve saved up. Because every line I ever wrote about anyone else now feels like a lie. To the core of my being I want to rip it up, erase it from existence so that I can use the beauty of each phrase, the perfection of every line, the words that I wasted on others, to write about him, and this time. I want to say a million things but some of them have been said before and the very fact that they have left my lips, my fingertips, somehow makes them not good enough for him…. because he’s something new… something different… something actual and tangible and real, totally authentic.

Words never fail me. But when I fell for him I spent so many nights looking in his eyes with a million things I wanted to say to him… and I said none of them. I expressed the smallest pieces of what I was feeling. Because my words didn’t seem good enough to explain this volcano of flames that was erupting in my chest. They simply, just did not fucking cut it. I’ve thought I loved before; and once or twice I have. So I have said many things to a person that I thought was my forever at the time. And to use those same words now, with someone so special, feels nothing short of wrong. They just aren’t good enough. So I’m a writer with no words like a bird without a song…

So how? How do I explain the way that the warmth of his hand on my shoulder radiates through my body straight to my soul and makes me feel like I’ve just come home? How do I explain the amazement I feel when I watch him think his way through something and come to the exact same conclusion that I have, that I swore no one else could see? How do I put into words, that after years of being bad at love, at fucking it up and finding it in all the wrong places, that I know I’ve finally got it right this time? Have you ever done that? Tried for something, given it a chance, time and time again all to discover that what you’d found is just another fuck up, another bad choice, another tragic ending? I have. And because of this past, all the words I have just don’t measure up in the face of this man. So I stare into the eyes of this person that I love to pieces and I know for the first time… that I’m completely speechless.

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

July Eighth

He makes me laugh. He makes me feel loved. He makes me think not every man's hands were made to be guns. He makes me think. He challenges me. He asks me how my day was. Regularly.

He thinks I am beautiful. He sees me as whole. My past is just a past, something that's old. He doesn't use it to label me, color me damaged. He sees a rainbow, not a woman made of bandages.

He loves me the way I thought only I was built to love. Not in that way that makes me think I'll never be enough. It is equal. It is good. It. Is. So. Much.

He speaks my language. He's never bigger than me. Smarter than me. "Be quiet so I can ignore you loudly". He wants to hear me. And that's why he chose me. And I accepted. Because I know a good man…when I see one closely.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

Struggle

Some days I struggle.

I carry this sense of impending doom around in my pocket like loose change or leftover lint. I feel a little left of center, a little off balance. Maybe I’m crooked. Maybe I’m damaged. Maybe there’s too many things that I’ve left unspoken, and the weight’s got me bent… but still unbroken.

So now some days I breathe anxiety for oxygen and use anger for strength.
Cause I can only fight as hard as I hate.
And sometimes that fire lightens the weight…
But sometimes it burns me instead.

I never fear the shoe dropping, I fucking expect it and although the years have caused that to lessen, I’ve still learned well how to hold my breath in. I’m a little cautious or completely reckless, balance has never been what I’m best at.

I’ve carried this guilt my entire life, accepting blame for shit that’s not mine.
I was raised to feel responsible, for everything; and it didn’t go away when I got old enough to see. See how broken that thinking is, and how wrong my mom was in the things she did. I was born pure and molded into an apology. Never taught to stand up or fight what people blamed on me. I spent my first 13 years mostly saying “Sorry”.

But evolution is inevitable and eventually the change came. I got a new mom, learned what I didn’t need to say. I stopped accepting blame and slowly dropped the weight. But some things in life, never truly go away.

So some days I wake up, with a belly full of lead, from all of the times that I bit another bullet. And on any given day my spine made of steel can curve into a question mark because not everything is healed. But most of the time, I stand up for myself, I don’t accept blame and take care of myself. I don’t make choices out of guilt, I don’t back down from what I’ve built. I’m accountable for my actions, and nothing fucking else.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

Substandard Love

I’ll love you when it’s easy,
I’ll kiss you when you’re sweet,
I’m careless and convenient,
I’ll support you when it suits me.

I’ll kick you while you’re down,
I’ll never lift you up,
I’m fucking fantastic,
And you’re never enough.

I’m all the ways you settle,
And nothing that you wished for,
But now my hooks are in you,
And I’ve pinned you to the floor.

Are you feeling trapped?
Baby that’s my speciality.
I’ll knock you down, wear you out,
Suffocate you, breathlessly.

Don’t you know? I’m everything,
And you are just my hostage.
You used to have self respect?
Well baby, you just lost it.

Come taste my love,
It’s nothing but substandard.
You swam onto my island,
Now you’re fucking stranded.

You’re welcome.

by Ashley King
© All Rights Reserved 2017

Dedicated to all the egotistical, narcissistic, one foot out the door, “I’m better than you”, demeaning, condescending, douchebags of the world. We see you. And you suck 🙂